The Best of Us

THE BEST OF US


In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questions and gave real answers; he loved to see Joyce shine, both in and out of the spotlight; and he didn’t mind the mess she made in the kitchen. He was not the husband Joyce imagined, but he quickly became the partner she had always dreamed of.

Before they met, both had believed they were done with marriage, and even after they married,

more …

In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questions and gave real answers; he loved to see Joyce shine, both in and out of the spotlight; and he didn’t mind the mess she made in the kitchen. He was not the husband Joyce imagined, but he quickly became the partner she had always dreamed of.

Before they met, both had believed they were done with marriage, and even after they married, Joyce resolved that no one could alter her course of determined independence. Then, just after their one-year wedding anniversary, her new husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the nineteen months that followed, as they battled his illness together, she discovered for the first time what it really meant to be a couple—to be a true partner and to have one.

Charting the course through their whirlwind romance, a marriage cut short by tragedy, and Joyce’s return to singleness on new terms, The Best of Us is a heart-wrenching, ultimately life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss.

less …
  • Bloomsbury USA
  • Paperback
  • September 2019
  • 464 Pages
  • 9781635570359

Buy the Book

$18.00

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Joyce Maynard

Joyce MaynardJoyce Maynard is the author of sixteen books including the novels To Die For and Labor Day (both adapted for film) and the bestselling memoir At Home in the World.  Her essays and columns have appeared in dozens of publications. She is a frequent performer with The Moth, a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and founder of the Lake Atitlan Writers’ Workshop. She is the mother of three grown children, and makes her home in Lafayette, California.

Author Website

Praise

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Best of 2017 List

“Profound, heart wrenching, inspiring, full of joy and tears and life.”Anne Lamott

“My heart broke and soared on every page. Everyone needs to read this book.”Ann Hood

The Best of Us is so candid, so deeply moving, so powerful… A testament to human resilience.”Joyce Carol Oates

Discussion Questions

1. Explore how Joyce and Jim harness the power of hope throughout this memoir. Discuss the points in the memoir where Joyce’s hope is tested and how her hopefulness is sustained or diminished in the face of struggle.

2. Compare and contrast Joyce’s understanding of marriage at the beginning of the story and at the end. How does this memoir challenge or reinforce the traditional notion of a “good” marriage? By the end of the memoir, what do you think Joyce’s definition of marriage would be?

3. The commitment to preserving her individuality is a cornerstone of Joyce’s personality, but Jim’s cancer entwines them by vastly altering the course of their life together. How does Joyce maintain her individuality while still being a devoted wife and caregiver? Discuss how Joyce attempts to return to her life alone after Jim’s death. How does one reconnect with themself after a tragedy?

4. The adoption and subsequent rehoming of Adenach and Layla is Joyce’s greatest source of shame. Although she loved her adopted daughters fiercely, it quickly became apparent that she could not provide the home they needed to thrive in their new American life: “They needed a different mother. They needed a father” (50). In your opinion, why was Joyce’s situation so unsuitable? Why was a father so necessary? Explore how, and if, Joyce comes to terms with her decision.

5. Explore the ways that Jim and Joyce come to terms with the finality of death. While Jim comes to peace with the end of his life, Joyce has to come to peace with the rest of hers. In what ways does Joyce prepare for Jim’s death and what effects of loss are unpredictable? Discuss the point, if any, that this memoir makes about the nature of death and fatal illness. How does Joyce grapple with being the one left behind?